It doesn't matter how you got to be single in your mid-thirties. What does matter, however, is that you have certain priorities in order so that you can protect yourself and those you date from getting hurt. There are too many reasons to list on why you're on the market at this stage in your life, but you should be clear on your goals, both long and short-term. You don't want to be led on or trapped into something you didn't want in the first place.
The very first things you need to consider are your short and long-term relationship goals. If you are a confirmed bachelor (or bachelorette) you definitely don't want to be dating someone who is determined to settle down and start a family. Age is often tied to this as well. A twenty-something may be looking for a good time or to tie the knot. While a boy toy or trophy can be fun in the short-term, if you are looking for a serious relationship you may want to look elsewhere.
There are a lot of things to consider when dating either above or below your age bracket. If you fall for someone who is a lot younger, you may get hurt because they can lack the maturity that comes only from life experience. Twenty-something's are often still trying to figure out where they fit in and are still forming their goals. Another problem is children; they may or may not want them. If you get really serious, as in any age bracket, you need to discuss each other's views on children.
On the other hand, if you date someone much older than you there are some problems to be aware of as well. Older people tend to have already decided what they want out of life, and generally are not too excited to change course. If you really want to settle down, don't go chasing after the man or woman who has no intention of a long-term relationship. Also, there are certain generation gaps that have to be considered. Your older lover may not appreciate going to see your favourite rock group in concert. With consideration and understanding, however, many obstacles of dating older and younger people can be overcome.
Another thing to consider is your financial position. Have you dedicated the last ten years to getting ahead in your career and the rewards that come with that? Are you willing to give up half of your money in a divorce? You will have to decide what is important depending on the person you are dating. Even people who aren't married have had their lover run off with the bank account. Protect yourself, and if necessary, seek the advice of an attorney before you propose or accept a proposal.
Finally, if you have children you need to consider the type of people that are entering your life. Do you want to bring any and all of your dates to meet them, or are you going to wait for someone fairly serious? You also have to try to uphold the values that you want your children to follow in their lives. You are a role model, and how you conduct yourself does make an impression on your children.
In short, be smart about what you are doing. Don't leave yourself open to being taken advantage of. Most of all, though, have fun and good luck in pursuing your romantic endeavours.
Heather Jaillett is a freelance writer from Washington State. After extensive dating, she finally found her soul mate. She still advises many on dating solutions and is constantly researching relationships and romance. Exploring ways to add romance to electronic communication is also another pursuit she enjoys.
Heather Jaillett writes for DrDating - a website for anyone looking for love online. We have hundreds of articles, E-Books and links to some great dating and love sites all over the world. DrDating also offers reviews of some of the most popular dating sites and books.